Century Mold Co. Inc. is beefing up its manufacturing capacity in a growth spurt that will take the company to projected annual sales of $110 million by 2008 - nearly double its current output.
The Rochester, N.Y., injection molder and toolmaker recently closed on financing that will bring in $40 million toward capital improvements to keep up with product demand, allowing it to expand even as other auto suppliers struggle to survive.
``We've been investing heavily in equipment and plants and people while everybody else was pulling back,'' Ron Ricotta, chief executive officer and president, said in a March 7 interview at the Plastics News Executive Forum in Tampa.
``You've got to embrace what's going on out there, or you're going to be left by the side of the road.''
The firm is moving fast, going from $27 million in 2002 sales to nearly $60 million in 2005. It already has booked $85 million in business for 2008 and expects to bring sales for the year to well over $100 million.
The growth has been laid out carefully and results from a focused plan the company designed five years ago, he said.
The company had developed core strengths in under-the-hood, functional plastics, particularly in producing nylon radiator end tanks. When it looked at the best ways to grow, leaders decided to stick with the area of the car the firm knew best, rather than interior or exterior trim.
There are a variety of functional products in the engine area, Ricotta said, and fewer companies compete to produce the high-precision parts. Today, Century Mold claims to make parts for two out of every three cars made in North America.
Investing in capital improvements and technology - along with in-house toolmaking capabilities - also allowed Century to improve its products and offer more value to its customers.
``They're under a lot of pressure as well,'' Ricotta said.
The Tier 1 suppliers that are Century's customers remember when a firm adds value to their bottom lines - and continue sending Century their business even as they consolidate their supply bases.
``Every customer is going through reductions in the numbers of suppliers, but those left will have more business in the long run,'' he said.
Century expanded in 2005 with a plant in Monroe, Ohio, adding to sites in Shelbyville, Tenn., and Rochester. It also bought into a joint venture facility in Hengli, China. The firm just installed its first machines there and will have space for 30 presses.
Its new financing ensures it will have the money on hand to pay for those presses and other equipment as Century grows.
``This leaves us with a lot of working capital,'' he said. ``We've got all the funding we need now to provide the equipment we're going to need for the next three years.''